Rutledge: State Receives $55 Million in Tobacco Settlement FundsTue, Apr 23, 2019
Bringing more than $1 billion total for public health programs
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has secured the 2019 share of proceeds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with tobacco companies. More than 20 years ago, 46 states and numerous other jurisdictions entered into a historic, multibillion dollar agreement to settle consumer-protection lawsuits for the costs that they had incurred for treating the negative health effects of smoking.
“The funds from the Master Settlement Agreement are important to the overall health and welfare of Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am proud to continue to enforce the tobacco statutes and secure the State’s disbursement from the agreement. This money funds smoking cessation programs, health care research and the Arkansas Medicaid program, which are all vital resources for a number of Arkansas families and children.”
This year’s disbursement of $ 55,375,060.96 brings the total amount received since 2001 to fund various public health programs in Arkansas to $1,059,678,391.78.
The MSA imposed health-related and advertising restrictions on tobacco companies. Additionally, the agreement requires the settling manufacturers to make annual payments to the settling states.
The Attorney General is tasked with enforcing the tobacco statutes that were enacted pursuant to the MSA. This enforcement includes operation of a certification process for tobacco manufacturers, ongoing quarterly and annual reporting, maintaining an Approved-For-Sale Directory, conducting audits, collection of escrow amounts and investigation or even litigation should violations of the tobacco statutes occur.
In 2000, Arkansas voters created the Tobacco Settlement Act, which governs how the funds received under the settlement are used. Payments are placed into the Tobacco Settlement Program Fund for later distribution to the programs supported by the settlement payments, including the Arkansas Biosciences Institute, an agricultural and medical research consortium; the Medicaid Expansion Program, which provides Medicaid coverage for pregnant women and increases hospital benefits for Medicaid beneficiaries; the Prevention and Cessation Program, which aims to reduce tobacco use; and the Targeted State Needs Program, which includes support for public health programs for minorities, older Arkansans and residents of rural areas and the Delta.
Rutledge Announces May Mobile Office ScheduleMon, Apr 22, 2019
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced mobile office locations for May.
Attorney General Rutledge created this initiative during her first year in office to increase office accessibility for all Arkansans, particularly to those who live outside the capital city. Office hours were held in all 75 counties each year during her first term, assisting 3,300 Arkansans.
Rutledge believes face-to-face conversations are the best way to truly hear from Arkansans. The Attorney General Mobile Offices assist constituents with consumer related issues by filing consumer complaints against scam artists as well as answering questions about the office and the other services it offers to constituents.
Rutledge continues her partnerships with the Cooperative Extension Service and local law enforcement across Arkansas. Law enforcement officials will be on hand to collect unused and expired prescription medications to ensure they are secured and properly disposed. Arkansans are encouraged to bring their old, unused or expired prescription medications to an upcoming mobile office. During Rutledge’s first term, over 618 pounds of medications were collected at mobile offices.
For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge and on Twitter at twitter.com/AGRutledge.
The upcoming mobile office schedule is below:
Thursday, May 2
10:30 a.m. to noon
Springdale Senior Center
203 Park St.
Springdale, AR 72764
Friday, May 3
10:30 a.m. to noon
Independence County Senior Center
1590 E. College Ave.
Batesville, AR 72501
Tuesday, May 7
10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Lee County Courthouse
15 E. Chestnut St.
Marianna, AR 72360
Wednesday. May 8
10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Leon Millsap Senior Activity Center
1301 E. 8th St.
Danville, AR 72833
Thursday, May 9
10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
St. Bernarnds Senior Life Center - Harrisburg
300 Fairground St.
Harrisburg, AR 72432
Tuesday, May 14
10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Columbia County Nutrition Center
600 Lelia St.
Magnolia, AR 71753
Monday, May 20
9:45 to 11:15 a.m.
Lafayette County Senior Citizens Center
228 Church St.
Stamps, AR 71860
Thursday, May 30
10 00 to 11:30 a.m.
Mount Ida Senior Activity Center
158 Senior Drive
Mount Ida, AR 71957
Rutledge Announces Dumas Woman Sentenced for Medicaid FraudWed, Apr 17, 2019
Says, ‘Shirley Owens took advantage of a vital resource’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a Desha County woman has pleaded guilty to theft of property by deception for caring for her husband, the patient, which is conduct that would make her ineligible to be paid by the Medicaid program.
“Shirley Owens took advantage of a vital resource by being illegally paid to care for her husband,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Medicaid is an important safety net for many, and what Owens did was take money and services away from another deserving Arkansan.”
Owens, 63, of Dumas, pleaded guilty to a form of Medicaid fraud involving theft of property by deception, a Class C felony, between December 2016 and July 2017. A Medicaid fraud investigation revealed that Owens and her husband, the Medicaid recipient had married in January 2006. She was ordered to pay $5,364 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund.
This case was referred to the Arkansas Attorney General’s office by the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General and prosecuted in coordination with Sixth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.
Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or email@example.com.
Rutledge Joins Coalition Supporting New WOTUS RuleTue, Apr 16, 2019
Says, ‘Obama-era rule was never about protecting our water in a responsible way’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today joined 16 other states in submitting a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers in support of the proposed revisions to define the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS).
“The overreaching Obama-era rule was never about protecting our water in a responsible way, and their action had disastrous implications for Arkansas farmers,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The proposed revisions return the EPA to its core mission of environmental enforcement, pollution mitigation and disaster cleanup.”
The comment letter from Rutledge and her colleagues is part of the efforts to repeal the Obama-administration rule which allowed the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to assert federal authority over a vast number of small bodies of water, including roadside ditches, short-lived streams and any other area where water may flow once every 100 years.
In 2017, President Donald J. Trump directed a review of the WOTUS definition. And in February, a new rule was proposed which would not only rescind the unlawful Obama-era rule, but would also promulgate a new definition of WOTUS which would restore an understanding that is faithful to the text of the Clean Water Act.
Rutledge is part of a coalition that helped secure a nationwide injunction blocking enforcement of the rule in August 2015, allowing the new administration to review the rule. She also testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry in March 2015 urging the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the Obama-era rule because of the negative impact it would have on Arkansas farmers.
Rutledge joined attorneys general from Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah in signing the letter, which was led by the attorney general from West Virginia.
Rutledge Retiree Resources Event Scheduled for JonesboroFri, Apr 12, 2019
‘How to Spot a Scam’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced an upcoming event in northeast Arkansas to educate Arkansas’s retirees about how they can protect themselves from vicious scam artists. The Rutledge Retiree Resources event will be held April 29 at the Jonesboro First Baptist Church for retirees from across the region.
“Retirees are a consistent target of scammers from across the world and these educational events are aimed to teach them how to spot a scam so they can protect their money and identity,” said Attorney General Rutledge.
Rutledge Retiree Resources events will be held regionally and are currently scheduled for June 25 in DeWitt and September 5 in Little Rock. Registration is now open. Attendees will learn from Attorney General office staff about protecting themselves from scams and identity theft, proper prescription drug disposal, resources regarding nursing homes and home care, and protecting finances. Lunch will be provided to all participants.
Rutledge Recognizes Crime Victims’ Rights WeekTue, Apr 9, 2019
LITTLE ROCK – April 7-13 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to raise awareness for victims and the effect that the victimization has on victims. Victims of crime may receive financial assistance to cover the medical and funeral expenses incurred by the victim or the victim’s family. Communities across the country, including here in Arkansas, are hosting events this week to honor crime victims and recognize those who advocate on their behalf. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has also declared this week as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Arkansas.
“As a former prosecutor, I have worked with victims of violence,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “And as Attorney General it is important for me to promote safer communities and honor the advocates who empower victims and survivors of violence. I offer my sincere prayers for protection and healing. I will continue to support and thank the countless members of law enforcement and victim advocates in communities across Arkansas.”
This year’s theme for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is “Honoring Our Past. Creating Hope for the Future.”
The Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Program, administered by the Office of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on behalf of the Crime Victims Reparations Board, provides financial compensation to victims and family members who have suffered personal injury or death as the result of violent crime.
Additionally, the Sexual Assault Reimbursement Program allows evidence to be collected after a sexual assault has been committed without the victim bearing the burden of the expense, and it pays for ambulance services and medical or legal examinations.
Victims may apply for compensation by submitting an application to the Attorney General’s office. Applications are available at ArkansasAG.gov or from Arkansas’s 28 elected prosecuting attorneys.
In 2016, Rutledge unveiled Laura’s Card and has since distributed over 75,000 cards across Arkansas. Laura’s Card is a resource to assist and empower victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to provide resources to people in abusive situations. The card can also be downloaded in English and Spanish at LaurasCard.ar.gov.